AD #1401 – Barra Back on the Hill, Volvo’s New Infrared Tech., Big Oil Helps Slash CO2 Emissions

June 19th, 2014 at 12:01pm

Runtime: 8:56

- Barra Back on the Hill
- Cadillac Falling Fast
- The Future Look of Qoros
- Peugeot’s New 508 Sedan
- Volvo Dumps Buttons & Knobs
- Big Oil Helps Slash CO2 Emissions

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Coming up in today’s Autoline Daily we’ll show you a couple of new sedans about to debut on the world stage, one from Europe, the other from China. And later in the show we’ll show you what could be a breakthrough technology to reduce CO2 emissions from cars. But now let’s get to today’s first story.

Yesterday GM CEO Mary Barra testified before the Energy and Commerce subcommittee in the U.S. House of Representatives. One thing became clear from those hearings on the Hill, those House members do not believe that GM could have changed its culture already. Nor do they believe the 15 employees who were fired were the only ones causing all the problems at GM. And the next round of hearings in the Senate will be a lot tougher. We can expect the Senators to dig deeper, especially into GM’s legal department and why it kept top management in the dark and hid documents from people who were suing the company. On a positive note the House members did seem to trust Anton Valukas, GM’s hired investigator. And CEO Mary Barra was much more convincing than the first time she appeared before the committee.

GM has other problems, too. Cadillac’s sales are plummeting in the U.S. market. In fact Audi is within a whisker of surpassing Cadillac in total sales for the year. Sales of the ATS and XTS are off more than 20%, while sales of the Escalade are down almost 15%. And now the head of sales, Bill Peffer, abruptly resigned, the third person to hold that job in just the last two years. Part of Cadillac’s problem is that the head of the brand Bob Ferguson is in Washington handling General Motor’s recall problems. I think it’s safe to say that GM will soon end up appointing someone else to run Cadillac, someone, that is, who knows a thing or two of how to sell luxury cars.

Qoros, the joint venture brand that’s owned by China’s Chery Auto and the Israel Corporation, just unveiled a good-looking concept car. Called the Qoros 9, it’s meant to showcase what a flagship sedan could look like in the year 2020. The car was designed by a Korean design student who created the sedan as part of an internship with the company. Qoros is a company you’ll want to keep an eye on, just last year it received a five-star crash rating in the Euro NCAP tests with its Qoros 3 sedan. And no other Chinese car has achieved that yet.

One of the most important vehicles in Peugeot’s lineup is its 508 sedan where it competes with cars like the Volkswagen Passat and the Ford Mondeo. Sales of the 508 have lagged behind them but Peugeot hopes to get more customers in the showrooms with its latest version. It comes in 3 different body styles, which show off new front and rear fascias. And it also will feature new technology like a rear-view camera, backup sensors and touch screen display. Power comes from one of three options, a 1.6L gasoline engine, a 2.0L diesel or a hybrid setup that’s paired with the 2.0L diesel. The 508 is produced both in Europe and China and it goes on sale in Europe later this year, while it will hit China showrooms early next year.

Touch screens have replaced buttons and knobs in a lot of cars, but there’s been a big consumer backlash because they’re not as easy to operate. Even so, the next Volvo XC90 is ditching its knobs and buttons. But Volvo feels its interface is very intuitive and does not require a phone book-sized manual. Steering wheel buttons and an improved voice control system will control basic everyday functions, while the home screen is broken into 4 tiles that contain the main functions. To aid those wearing gloves or using fingernails instead of fingertips, the touch screen relies on infrared technology. There’s a frame built around the screen and the infrared field it creates can pinpoint where someone is touching, or almost touching by using X/Y coordinates. We’ve read that infrared screens can be less accurate than capacitive ones, but technology is always improving so we need to test drive the new XC90 to see how it works.

Lightweighting your racecar does not always involve exotic materials, it can be as simple as shaving down the wheel studs. That’s just one of the many great tips that Mark Stielow, chief engineer of the new Camaro Z/28 offers up in his book Pro Touring. If you would like a chance to win a copy all you have to do is answer a simple question: How many g-forces are the carbon ceramic brakes on the new Z/28 capable of generating? Just check out the Seat Time section of our website and look for our review of the Z/28. Once you got the answer send us an email to and we will pick a winner at random.

Coming up next, did you know Big Oil is researching ways to slash CO2 emissions in cars?

Could Big Oil play a pivotal role in slashing automotive CO2 emissions? Saudi Aramco and ExxonMobil are studying ways to strip CO2 from the exhaust gases pumping out of an engine. They call it CCS for carbon capture and storage. The idea is to capture CO2 from the exhaust and store it in an on-board tank.

Researchers at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute show that even a modest on-board carbon capture system could produce significant CAFE improvements.

A vehicle rated at 20 miles-per-gallon, when fitted with an on-board system that captured 20% of the CO2, could then be rated at 37 mpg from an emissions standpoint. Remember, CAFE is not just about fuel economy anymore. Starting in 2017 the EPA is adding regulations that stipulate reductions in greenhouse gasses as well.

Up to now the only way to reduce CO2 was to improve the fuel economy of the vehicle. That’s why automakers are investing so heavily in new powertrains and light-weight materials. But that is an expensive strategy which is starting to significantly drive up the cost of cars. The on-board capture approach could be much cheaper. But it won’t come easy.

Carbon dioxide is formed when two oxygen atoms join to a carbon atom. Bonding them together adds weight and volume. Amazingly, burning one gallon of gasoline, which weighs 6 pounds, generates almost 19 pounds of CO2. If they captured 100% of the CO2 they would need to store it in a tank three times larger than the gasoline tank. That’s why the researchers are proposing to capture only 20% of the CO2.

But then what do you do with the CO2? Could gas stations handle the off-boarding? And then what would they do with the CO2? Could motorists be paid for their CO2 which is used in food and beverage processing as well as in industrial applications? Clearly there are plenty of questions to be answered.

But what I like about this research is that it’s looking at the CO2 challenge from a completely different standpoint. Obviously Big Oil is interested because it could extend the use of fossil fuels deep into this century. But for automakers it could provide a new way to reduce CO2 emissions much more cost effectively than the way they’re doing it now.

And that wraps up today’s report. Be sure to join us tonight for Autoline After Hours where we’ll be talking a lot about alternative energy cars. And then join us right here again tomorrow for another edition of Autoline Daily.

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39 Comments to “AD #1401 – Barra Back on the Hill, Volvo’s New Infrared Tech., Big Oil Helps Slash CO2 Emissions”

  1. marshy Says:


    You’ll want to check the CO2 mass vs volume statements. Since the emissions are gaseous, they may weigh more than the gas burned, but to get that mass into a reasonable volume it will either need to be liquefied cyrogenically or compressed. Either way adds energy consumption and cost. Recall from high school that liquid to gas transitions are generally a 500-1000x density change!

    If we’re going to have high pressure storage on board, might as well be for a cleaner burning fuel like natural gas.

  2. pedro fernandez Says:

    Too bad about Cadillac, 2theredline reviewer who is not a big fan of American cars, gave the CTS a glowing review, actually preferring it over the BMW 5 series.

  3. chuck @ GM Says:

    Could motorists be paid for their CO2 which is used in food and beverage processing as well as in industrial applications?

    Motorists get paid for their C02?? That’s funny. Most likely there’ll be a charge to recycle or whatever they end up doing with it.

  4. dcars Says:

    It seams like GM has been in state of decline for a long time. With so many stumbling blocks and management that hasn’t been very stable makes you wonder how long the company will survive.

  5. Terry Quinn Says:

    You need to think through the carbon capture and storage on an automobile before you write about it like it is a done deal. The articles I see posted by oil companies seem to be talking about stationary applications. You said the tank to catch the the CO2 would be 3x larger. CO2 as a gas is 1000x times greater volume than the liquid fuel it comes from (high school physics). If you compress it to 1000 psi to decrease its volumen (like is being proposed for coal fire power plants), you must use 25% additional fuel just to do the compression.

    More interestingly, if they EPA were to report that a low carbon emitting, fossil-fueled vehicle will get 37 mpg when the owner still pays for its fuel at a 20 mpg rate, that will go over about as well as ObamaCare did.

  6. Bradley Says:


    Good Point, it may also appear that

    Big Oil is simply serving their own interests. Wikipedia lists oil recovery as one of the uses for CO2. Improving oil extraction by as much as 23%.

    Help lower CO2 emissions, lower the cost of CO2 and help Big Oil’s bottom line.

  7. Lex Says:

    Forget about ever capturing all that CO2 onboard a vehicle and transferring to refueling. I agree with Marshy, might as well start converting the US fleet over to AutoGas which is used in Europe.

  8. Lex Says:

    The Cadillac needs to dump the Advertising Agency it is using. Their TV Commerials are very polarizing.

  9. Bradley Says:

    Peugeot has always been a curiosity of mine. At one point their cars must have been for sale in the United States as I remember seeing one a couple of decades ago.

    Someone told me at one point in the 80s they had a car or two built on a ladder frame like a truck. Is that true?

  10. Lex Says:

    Barra needs to avoid playing into the hands of the members of the Congress and Senate. It is very easy to Monday morning quarterback a bad situation. I believe Barra will attempt to do everything in her power to correct the situation, punish those that were responsible, rebuild the general public’s full faith in General Motors with her mandates for product excellence. This will probably mean a few lean profit years for GM to repair the damage. Good Luck Mary Barra.

  11. Bradley Says:

    I haven’t watched the BBQ of Barra, but I am sure GM hasn’t done what I would have done.

    I would have presented detailed information showing exactly what products had the suspect parts

    Identify who was involved in changing the part without changing the part #.

    Then show the list of parts that that group of people were involved in.

    Then show of those parts which one have a safety implications.

    Then show how they have verified none of those parts were changed without ratcheting the part #.

    Then address the cultural questions, etc.

  12. Chuck Grenci Says:

    The biggest reason for Cadillac’s failure (and I’m a fan of just about all their stuff) is that in each of its latest introductions, the price increases have been way too much. Their product is excellent IMO (world class) but so was Chevy’s upgraded Corvette, which had only a modest price increase (and is selling like hotcakes). Cadillac, you need bite the bullet, get you product out there, gain market share, get credence (in the luxury community), then raise prices (if still warranted).

    And Lex, post #7, you’re absolutely right; Cadillac had some dynamite advertising (not too long ago), now, not so much. I’m remembering the Led Zeppelin “Rock and Roll” ads, not to mention the magnetic ride control commercials that pointed out that Ferrari got their idea from Cadillac (not the other way around).

  13. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Actually Lex post #8 (darn forum changed post numbers on me).

  14. Bradley Says:


    The fact GM has to always be followed by “World Class.” Demonstrates their product is not speaking to the people. This is part of GMs advertising problem, it is too literal and trying to hard put words in people’s mouths.

    I don’t hear Toyota followed by “World Class.”

  15. w l simpson Says:

    Remember when Cadillac was —”The Standard of the Industry” ?—— not for a long, long time, Starting with the Cimarron

  16. MARSHALL Says:

    Funny, Volvo used to be all about safety. With buttons and knobs I can easily operate the radio and climate control by touch, never having to take my eyes off of the road. This touchscreen nonsense is a backward move for Volvo. But then what would you expect from a Chinese owned company.

  17. John McElroy Says:

    #15. The Cadillac slogan was “The Standard of The World” which I believe dates back to 1902 when it won the Dewar Trophy for using interchangeable parts.

  18. motorman Says:

    the new caddys are too “tight” inside for people who weigh in the 250# to 300# range. i have friends who bought caddys before but now buy large SUVs because they are much more comfortable for them to drive

  19. aliisdad Says:

    Cadillac and Buick were once great brands, and they looked the part; however, today, they just are not in the same league as most of the other luxury brands… The Caddy origami look is getting pretty stale, and the Buicks look like Lexus or Audi models that need to work out more!! Caddy lost its way quite a few years ago, and they cannot just tack words like “Standard of the World” or “World Class” on their ads and make it true… (by the way, do you remember the head of GM at the time saying that the “Cimmoron” was the equal of the BMW 3 series… Kinda of reminds of me hearing Mr. O tell us the war in Iraq was over just as the enemy troops were coming in!! Saying something does not make it true; you have to build “world class” to be “world class”..
    I think their only hope, and Lincoln’s as well, is that Mercedes, BMW, and Audi seem to be going down market with some of their offerings which may take some of their “luster” away…
    Buick really had some classy cars in the LeSaber/Park Avenues of a few years ago.. They got great mileage, looked great, and were pretty good cars that at least looked like “world class” even if they were not there quite yet… I knew sever people who had them, and the looked the equal of some really fine cars; however, I noticed a number of small quality issues such as trim that was not quite installed or aligned correctly… Clearly, they did not meet Mercedes-type standards, but GM was on the right track with them… I always thought that with a little more work, they would be there; but, they changed course to try to be more of a “pretend Lexus”… Why does GM always seem to “bail” just as they get close to having a model develop in to something really good???
    Anyway, I think they can still save those brands, and they probably should just be combined into all Buicks to be sold as the “near luxury” models at Chevy dealers; however, they better get on it SOON, and it is too bad that the constant recall news is not going to help them with buyer perception..
    Another problem for both and Lincoln is that they cannot try to sell their cars, at this time, at “Mercedes-like prices”… They are going to have to produce truly great cars, and work up to what they once were… It might not be fair, although I believe it to be the case, but GM and Lincoln products are just not considered by consumers in they same way that they were back in their “glory days”…
    Hopefully, they will someday realize that you cannot successfully “lead from behind”, and it is OK to be just a nice, quality, American “near luxury” brand that is sold at a reasonable price for the market..

  20. Bob Wilson Says:

    I agree with everyone about the mass and volume challenges of capturing CO{2} in a vehicle. Sealed battery vehicles have to carry first the charged reactants and later the discharged reactants. An “air-” battery does not have to carry the oxygen and if the discharged reactant is benign, it can be dumped overboard (i.e., water but some of the metal-air oxides would be the same as common dust.)

    Trying to store the captured CO{2} would increase the vehicle weight during the drive IF it could be physically compressed. Between the extra weight and compression loss, the delivered MPG would take a nose dive . . . leading to more fuel being needed per trip . . . more CO{2} . . . a vicious, not a virtuous cycle. But there is one virtuous approach.

    Using cooled, engine exhaust can reduce exhaust temperatures at high power settings instead of using fuel-enrichment. This could improve highway mileage in a lot of both gas and diesel cars. It is only a fraction of the CO{2} load but a little bit goes a long way.

    Bob Wilson, Huntsville AL

  21. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Peugeot sold cars in the U.S. until 1986 or so. As I remember, the front drive 405 was the last one, but the rear drive 505 was sold near the end. I’m sure Peugeot made “ladder frame” cars at one time, but Ford did until, what, last year.

  22. Kit Gerhart Says:

    21, Correction. Peugeot sold cars in the US until 1991.

  23. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I like Cadillac’s current cars, at least the ATS and CTS, but, as other have said, it’s the price, stupid.

    The ELR pricing is the ultimate in “wishful thinking,” but even the CTS starts at over $46K with the turbo four. If you want the V6, it starts at almost $55K. For that money, I’d rather have an E-Class, an E-Class with the diesel that the CTS doesn’t offer.

    As far as all the GM bashing regarding key switches, recalls, etc., I am getting very weary of hearing about it, as I was with the “unintended acceleration” crap with Toyota. If Mercedes-Benz had exactly the same issues as GM, which may even be the case, we wouldn’t hear a peep about it in the media, and congress wouldn’t be remotely interested in “investigating” it.

  24. BobD Says:

    CO2 capture on vehicles does not make sense. It would be much more efficient to capture CO2 on power plants and other large stationary emitters and then set up a system of trading credits for the automobile manufacturers to buy if they needed help meeting CAFE requirements.

  25. cwolf Says:

    A fan of Cadillac, like Chuck, all their models look too much the same and are too over-priced. The std. engines are undeserving and some of the options should be standard, while others should be stand alone and not part of a package.
    Just the fact that two head of sales were short lived indicates there are discrepancies and a clear lack of direction. There is just so much to like in the models, if only one could pick and choose options in a way which is simple, clear and more affordable to what is desrving of the brand. There certainly isn’t anything wrong with the cars themseves.

  26. pedro fernandez Says:

    The Caddy CTS reviewed was the V sport with options totaling over $72k the base CTS goes for about $45k but it pales in comparison, this is where many automakers go wrong, they make you send almost twice as much as the base price to get all the goodies.

  27. Earl Says:

    #18 Here I thought I was them only one that thought that the interiors of the current Cadillacs were too small and I’m under 200#. I’m surprised that GM with all it’s customer research didn’t realize that the girth of the average American has expanded and continues to expand.American’s are dining on Big Mac’s and patronizing eating establishments like The Cheese Cake Factory with over size portions. Add to this every community across America has a local trough (aka buffet) or more than one,where the professional eaters waddle in and waddle out.

  28. C-Tech Says:

    Cadillac needs to bite the bullet and lower their prices. It may also help to continue to offer a wagon and coupe CTS. Build great cars, take a smaller profit and you’ll take back market share.

  29. Kit Gerhart Says:

    27, Maybe they figure “people of size” will buy Escalades, and are counting on smaller people to buy ATS and CTS. If they consider 200# to be “of size,” though, they are out of touch.

    28, Exactly

  30. C-Tech Says:

    After driving Cadillac ATS, CTS, and XTS comparing them to the BMW 1-series, 3-series, and 5-series I find them to be comparable in interior room, with the exception of the 1-series which is a little snug. There is enough room for 250+lbs. stretched over 6 feet. I don’t ride in the back seat, so I could not make a judgement. I have a friend who likes his Aveo (why? unknown) and he is 6’1″ 340 plus or minus a biscuit.

  31. Kit Gerhart Says:

    30, As long as you only want basic transportation around town, an Aveo is OK, as long as it doesn’t break. Compared with an old Beetle, an Aveo is pure luxury. The Aveo demonstrates that worst-in-class is much better than it once was.

  32. RonE Says:

    #30, My wife and I are friends with a couple that have a 2013 XTS and the husband is 200+. He loves his car and I have never heard him complain about lack of room. My wife and I ride in the back seat when we go somewhere with them and there is more than enough room for us. To be honest though, I am 5’7″ and my wife is 5’4″, both average weight, so we are probably not a good judge of “enough” room.
    I would probably never pay that much for a car, but the XTS is one very nice ride.

  33. Kit Gerhart Says:

    32, The Impala is a much better buy than an XTS, and has much more user friendly controls.

  34. Bradley Says:

    I haven’t sat in a post bailout Cadillac. However, from the outside I would say it looks like Cadillac got the memo.

    One criticism of Cadillac pre-bailout was they catered to an aging demographic. Statistically an aging population waist line is bigger than a younger population.

    It sounds like long lived Cadillac fans may be putting their beloved brand in a tough spot. Be world class, at the same time give me 10 cup holders and elastic waistbands.

  35. Sean T Says:

    The EPA regulations started in the 2012 MY. Also, the formula for CAFE MPG is primarily based on CO2, so I wonder if CCS would factor in that equation (or would it be an “off-cycle” technology credit)?

  36. Kit Gerhart Says:

    35, Are you saying diesels are calculated differently than gassers for CAFE, because they emit more CO2 per gallon of fuel burned?If that is the case, it further explains why so few diesel cars are available in the US.

  37. Enn Norak Says:

    What do do with the CO2 ??? Perhaps there is a process like artificial photosynthesis that takes the C out of CO2 and combines it with hydrogen to produce a hydrocarbon fuel. Hydrogen could be produced by electrolysis powered by solar cell arrays.

  38. Sean T Says:

    36. CO2 is the primary factor of determining the CAFE value for diesel as well, but it’s a different equation based on / accounting for the different fuel properties. So for NHTSA CAFE diesels are as good as advertised (so to speak) because it’s a fuel consumption regulation, however for EPA GHG/CO2 regulations it is not as good as the public would think because the fuel is more carbon intensive and therefore emits more CO2 per gallon. That is, speaking in terms of CO2 the diesel’s inherent efficiency gains are largely offset by the increased carbon emitted per gallon of fuel.

    But all of that doesn’t answer my initial question, and it’s not the reason light-duty diesels haven’t taken taken off here — that’s a function of higher cost to meet emissions and customer payback time.

  39. kiwi Says:

    Whoa, whoa, whoa! Slow down! The EPA and NHTSA are complying with two different laws. The EPA is required to reduce CO2 emissions due to the Clean Air Act. NHTSA is required to increase fuel economy due to the Energy Independence and Security Act. Reducing CO2 without also increasing fuel economy simply won’t work, because BOTH agencies have follow the law.